City expands summer youth employment program with 100,000 new jobs for NYC youth

Queens Community House is facing obstacles while working toward the kickoff of the Summer Youth Employment Program. (Courtesy QCH)

New York City Mayor Eric Adams held a press conference to reaffirm his administration’s commitment to the NYC Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) with the addition of 100,000 more job opportunities for NYC youth. 

The NYC SYEP is one of the nation’s largest programs of its kind, working to connect young people from ages 14 to 24 with career exploration opportunities and paid work experience every summer. Young people have the chance to explore interests in different career fields all while developing workplace skills, engaging in opportunities to develop civic, social and leadership skills and the opportunity to get paid for their work.

The program also helps young people stay out of the influence of violence and crime which spikes particularly during the summertime and instead work on establishing their futures.

“The program is about removing the impediments to allow children to enjoy the city that they watch continually grow while their future goes down,” said Mayor Adams. “Every young person should have an opportunity. There are young people in this city that [spend their whole lives] on one square mile, not understanding the importance of exposure. A job, internship or exposure is more than just putting money in the pockets to help a family. It is a way to understand that there is a world out there that they deserve to be a part of.”

Specially programming through SYEP is available to youth who reside within the five boroughs and are legally allowed to work. Teens ages 14 and 15 learn about career opportunities and make a difference in their communities through paid project-based activities. Young people 16-21 can enroll in a program to improve work readiness skills and explore career pathways through paid experiences in a variety of industries and young adults 22-24 who currently face employment barriers or reside in NYCHA developments are also eligible for special programs.

“I am really grateful to be a part of an administration that is getting so much done for the community,” said deputy mayor Sheena Wright. “I want to thank the division for youth and community development that will be really the anchor for this historic expansion. Coming out of the pandemic, this is just what we need. Research has shown again and again that summer youth employment improves academic outcomes, improves public safety and increases job readiness and knowledge of career options for young people.”

Additional speakers bolstered these claims, saying that the expansion of the SYEP would be an unprecedented step in the right direction for the city’s youth.

“Whether working at a community-based organization, a major company or a neighborhood small business our young people walk away with memorable experiences,” Councilmember Adrienne Adams said. “And I can let you know that like my own family members including my precious granddaughter – who didn’t realize that her nonna in the city council was responsible along with her colleagues for ensuring an increase and an upkeep of our SYEP program through funding – would benefit from SYEP.”

Other public servants also voiced their excitement about the expansion of the program.

“This is emotional for me because I’ve spent my time in advocacy over the past 20 years, and never did I think that I would walk into city hall and it’s like ‘no you guys are getting everything that you have been fighting for,’” said Councilmember Althea Stevens. “I remember being on those steps summer after summer begging to get resources for summer youth and it was never really a priority. But we all know that this is an investment, and I say this all the time but when we invest in our kids on the front end, we don’t have to invest in them on the back end.”